The short answer is, yes, they are. The long answer is that it depends on other factors, which I will get to soon.
A recent article authored by Terry Hughes, a very well-known coral reef scientist, proposed that widely used sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate are not that bad for coral reefs as previously reported by scientific studies. Terry’s reasoning is because it doesn’t represent realistic scenarios.
Terry’s article “deeply disappointed” many people in the coral reef community because they say the studies address realistic conditions and conclude sunscreens are indeed bad for coral reefs (and bad for humans as the chemicals are carcinogenic).
There is no doubt that other factors such as climate change and destructive fishing practices threaten reefs on a global scale; however, there are scenarios where sunscreens can threaten coral reef health at a local level in high tourist traffic areas.
Listen to the episode to find out why I believe it is important for people to use “reef safe” sunscreen.
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